Hibbett Sports 3Q Beats, Lifts Fiscal View

Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) raised its fiscal profit forecast for the third time this year on Friday and expressed optimism that strong footwear and apparel sales will help it excel heading into the competitive holiday season.

The retail store operator expects to make $2.05 to $2.11 a share in fiscal 2012, which is higher than average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $2. The upgrade comes after its much larger rival, Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) also raised its fiscal view.

“We look forward to the holiday season,” Hibbett CEO Jeff Rosenthal said in a statement.

During the key season, Hibbett plans to open 19 to 21 new stores, bringing total new stores opened during the year to between 51 and 53, with just 16 to 18 closures.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based operator of sporting goods stores posted third-quarter net income of $16 million, or 59 cents a share, compared with $12.6 million, or 44 cents a share, in the same quarter last year. The results beat the Street’s view of 51 cents.

Revenue for the three-month period was $185.2 million, up from $167.4 million a year ago, ahead of average estimates of $179.9 million.

The company attributed the growth to strong footwear and apparel sales, as well as improved inventory management.

“We are pleased to report the eighth consecutive quarter of comparable store sales increases and a record third quarter operating margin,” Rosenthal said.